Nine Wise Elders


Though tall the oak, and firm its stem,
Though far abroad its boughs are spread,
Though high the poplar lifts its head,
I have no song for them.
A theme more bright, more bright would be
The winsome, winsome elder tree,
Beneath whose shade I sit reclin’d;
It holds a witch within its bark,
A lovely witch who haunts the dark,
And fills with love my mind.      

From “The Elder-Witch” by George Borrow (1803-1881)

Felicitous Greetings Foraging Friends on this New Moon in Gemini!

Nature has everything to offer our souls and cells and I was recently resting my skin on the warm, healing grass, amongst nine wise Elders with their glorious display of inflorescence; blending in to ask permission to pick some of their fragrant flowers.

This is my harvest of Spring Elderflowers before they turn to white, then purple-black berries on the branch, for other healing creations.    My Father used to make nectarian Elderflower and Elderberry wines amongst other luscious libations.

Sambucus (Elder) is also used in Sambuca, the lovely digestif where we used to light coffee beans in and dip in our flaming fingers!

The 5 petal flowers look like clusters of stars and make me think of the infinite galaxies there must be…..        Flowers can be eaten directly from the tree and there are so many delicious foods and drinks you can make from raw ice-cream to creamy, sweet-scented raw biscuits.     This year, amongst other nourishing raw fare, I’ve invented very quick Elder Flower Fizz;  Elderflower Wild Salad;  an Elderflower Lemon Lucuma Tart and, for preservation, some Elderflower ice cubes, Elderflowers frozen for spontaneous Summer drinks and  dried Elderflowers for tea later in the year.

Elderflower Fizz

to make: blend up a handful of Elderflowers (no stalks) enough for two Russian Champagne glasses, with pure water in the blender.  Squeeze through a gauze bag or sieve.    Pour liquid into glasses and add freshly squeezed orange and one or two orange Sizzling Minerals!

et voilà!  Á votre santé!


From childhood, I remember a story by Hans Christian Andersen called “The Elder Tree” in which the boy, who had caught a cold, was given Elderflower tea for its healing properties and told a fairy story (Love) for the same reason.     Inside the tree was a woman in a green dress trimmed with Elderflowers, the Elder Tree Mother, a Dryad, or the female spirit of a tree.  She’d grown an Elder bush from inside a tea-pot and said that the most extraordinary of all fairy tales come from real life.   Indeed they do.

I gather only with the utmost respect for my harvests and always offer my profound thanks for all the leaves and flowers I collect, which is just the amount I need for myself or to share.    It’s foraging not pillaging!    This takes the form of verbal thanks or intuitive, extemporaneous songs that come from my being so immersed in that inspiration that Earth brings.

When we take those vital breaks from mundane tasks – whether it’s painting, photography, chants, stillness, emptiness or observing –  and we enter into another dimension or conscious state, a space is created where new ideas can then surface.    It is because we release inner chaos of tension and are then able to access and hear our own inner wisdom and creativity.

I was collecting leaves along the river recently and, being with the timeless plant energy, I was brought back, when I heard a voice say: “What do you do with them?”    Speech came slowly to me as I re-entered my body and smiled to see a woman who was so excited to hear of the healing properties of the many plants so easily available to her now.


Raw Elderflower Lemon Lucuma Tart

to make: use previous Lemon Lucuma Tart recipe on this blog and substitute almond milk with Elderflowers blended with coconut flesh.


Elderflower Wild Salad

Foraged:  Elderflowers, White Dead Nettle tops, Chickweed, Cleavers

Window box: Chives and Chive Flowers, Dandelion Leaves, Dandelion Flowers

From my kitchen:   Sprouted Green Puy Lentils,   Sprouted and Dehydrated Crispy Sunflower Seeds

Farmers Market:  Plump Phallic Asparagus, Beetroot,  Courgette Ball

and an avocado with dandelion and rocket pesto (pesto not pictured)


I sit with the greens and flowers I’ve planted: in one window box,  parsley, purple sage, red clover and chives with their violet flowers.    Equally important, the bees love the chive flowers, too.     I have a multi coloured, soft feather duster I keep especially at this time of year for when the bees come inside my open windows and think they’re trapped because of the glass.    I soon free them!

DSC08998Not long after the Summer Solstice on 21st June, we’ll begin to see Elder berries which have yet more precious properties to bestow.    She just keeps on giving to see us through the year.

It is considered very bad luck to cut an Elder tree or burn her wood.   Why would anyone do so, with her abundant beneficence and grace?

Thank you Elder Tree Mother, thank you Mother Nature.

With Love, Dawn

DSC02742  DSC02741

This entry was posted in Foraging, HEALING, Nature, RAW FOODS, Singing, Trees, Wild Food and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Nine Wise Elders

  1. Hi Dawn,

    This is a very beautiful, poetic and wonderfully informative and creative blog. I didn’t know that about the Elder Trees and their flowers. I will have to have a look round our area to see if I can locate some.

    Thank you for your wisdom and your writing.



  2. Thank you, Kim, very much appreciated. With Nature’s blessings to you.


  3. Pingback: American Elder (Sambucus canadensis) | Find Me A Cure

  4. Pingback: PLENILUNE | solsticetree

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